Sunday, January 16, 2022

Notre Dame Magazine: Winter 2020-2021 Sports and Spirituality Review: Going Back in Time

When I reached for the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Notre Dame Magazine, I wasn't sure if I read all of  it. I never throw out—err, recycle—this alumni publication until I have completed my Sports and Spirituality review. Part of me thought I held onto it because the back cover features "Amy Coney Barrett '97 JC, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court (See the story on page 46)." I love that the photo of this woman I respect and admire features her in the classroom, teaching. In the background is a crucifix and a student taking notes? fact checking the lecture?!? I took a quick look though the publication only to see that I had not given my review and though it is one year later, still worth doing. Why? I want to point the way to the following pieces rich in both sport and spirituality. Enjoy!

A Most Unusual Semester.
I don't know about you, but I have a hard time reading articles about living through COVID. Is it because while some things have changed, others have not? Are we not still too close to it? 

Margaret Fosmoe '85, captures how the pandemic affected the 2020 football season "as a temporary member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Attendance at games was limited to no more than 20% of stadium capacity which amounted to about 15, 525 fans per game—students, faculty and staff." 

Many will remember the highlight of the 2020 home season, played before a mostly student crowd of 11,011. When the Irish won the game 47-40 in double overtime, thousands rushed the field, a celebration broadcast live on national television. What others might not remember is that students with tickets to the game were required to take COVID-19 tests, and those who didn't show up for testing had their tickets canceled." 

Ah COVID, we aren't done with you yet, are we? The title of this article can be used yet again.

Becoming a Notre Dame Man
I never heard the term "Notre Dame man" or "Notre Dame woman" as an undergraduate. However, I remember the first time I heard it. In a speech to the alumni club of the San Francisco Bay Area, Frank Allocco shared how he became a Notre Dame man and referred to some of his mentors, teammates and coaches who embodied what it means.

In this short excerpt from "Telling Stories that Matter: Memoirs and Essays" by Father Marvin O'Connell, a long time professor and chair of the University's history department, I learned Notre Dame does not have a fight song—it's a "Victory March."  I now know that Paul Hourning was the only member of a losing team to win a Heisman Trophy and that "the boldness of cheering for our players when they had no chance to win, and its effect on them proved to be" more than a rite of passage. It's what it means to be a Notre Dame man... 

May I Have Your Attention, Please?
This tribute is in loving memory of Tim McCarthy, Indiana State Police safety education sergeant, who delivered safety messages laced with one-liners at Notre Dame football games for 55 years. He died October 1, 2020 at age 89. 

As written by Kristy Katzmann '00, "One of his new responsibilities was to make an announcement at Notre Dame home football games reminding people to drive safely on the way home, but after two games he knew people weren’t paying attention. He decided to change that by adding something to the message"

The result? Notre Dame Stadium fell silent in eager anticipation during the fourth quarter for a reminder to drive carefully and 
courteously on the way home, punctuated by an often groan-inducing play on words. This article includes his Top 10 favorite. Mine is 
    7. No one relishes a pickled driver.

Traditions big and small, like what Officer McCarthy shared inside of Notre Dame stadium are but one example of what makes game day so special.

LepreConal: First native Irishman dons the mascot's green suit.
Pregame festivities for the Fiesta Bowl included Mass at the Biltmore Hotel and a reception right after. I walked in to this event only to see the ND mascot, also known as "LepreConal." Thanks to this article, introduced myself to Conal Fagan as only a fangirl can...and does. 

The native of Derry, Ireland is known for "fun, crazy energy." He said "I would always start the cheers before the cheerleaders, and they got really annoyed at me." Irish and energetic, athletic and aware—job description: filled!

The Education of Amy Coney Barrett
I loved learning about what the title of this article suggests: Coney Barrett's education. I delight in knowing that she too, has gained important life lessons from sports.

John Nagy '00 recalled this insight. Thanks athletics!

When she was 10 years old, the oldest child in a growing Catholic family in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana, Amy Coney competed in her first track meet.

She lost her event. Seeing her disappointment, an uncle consoled her. “Honey,” he said, “do you know how many times you looked to see where the other runners were? Every time you look to the right or the left, you lose a half-step. Next time, look straight ahead and run your best.”

She told this story 34 years later to students who voted her professor of the year. That afternoon in May 2016, Professor Barrett’s theme wasn’t winning but the danger of comparison. She quoted Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Then she shared her uncle’s kindly advice that’s helped her keep perspective along life’s way. It was characteristic of Barrett, regarded by colleagues and students as an exemplary mentor, to use a parting moment to counsel bright young minds on what makes for happiness as they enter a notoriously unhappy profession.

ACB was #13 on my 20 people, places, events and episodes that brought some joy to year that needed it: 202o. I hope to meet her and when I do, I will thank her for professing our shared beliefs.

The day I finished reading this 2020-2021 edition, the 2021-2022 arrived in the mail. Serendipity! My Seagrass Basket Zero remains a challenge...albeit a very good one.

Photo Credits
All are from ND Magazine except for 
Frank Allocco: Peacock documentary on Joe Montana

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